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Newsletter October 16, 2020

A Message from the Minister’s Messy Desk

At this week’s Session meeting we opened with Lamentations 3:19-33. Lamentations is an oft overlooked book of the Bible in part because it’s authorship is unknown and because it is included in the prophetic literature but comes across as more wisdom literature. Yet, I have found that Lamentations speaks to our times very well. In his introduction to the book Eugene Peterson writes, “Lamentations is a concentrated and intense biblical witness to suffering. Suffering is a huge, unavoidable element in the human condition. To be human is to be suffer. No one gets an exemption…Lamentations, written out of the Exile experience, provides the community of faith with a form and vocabulary for dealing with loss and pain.” Well, we are definitely not experiencing exile but I know that isolation can feel like it! Lamentations, however, is also filled with hope and the passage from chapter 3 talks of always having hope for help from God. It even says that God’s stockpiles of loyal love are immense and God will never walk out and fail to return.  As we plan to re-open in careful ways I pray that we can all feel the hope with which we are surrounded.

The Session met on Tuesday Oct. 13th. Here are some very important highlights:

We will begin in person services following the guidelines in the Re-opening plan with a trial run on Sunday Nov. 1st at 10:30am

Sunday, Nov. 8th will be an on-line only service (pre-taped).

If the in-person service is successful we will resume on Sunday, Nov. 15th.

The guidelines are provided below and must be followed. Elders will also be in touch with you about the guidelines. We will have a formal registration process in place by next week.

Small church committees are also permitted to in the building so long as they too follow the re-opening plan. Those guidelines will be sent to all committee chairs.

At this stage Joy to the World Nativity Display is also considering how they can proceed in a safe manner. Please pray for them as they envision what the event may look like during Advent 2020.

We are looking for volunteers to be a part of our Building and Property Committee. The mission of this committee is to ensure that adequate care and maintenance requirements for the CVPC building and grounds are met. We are also very grateful for the work of Dave Sherstone who has served as chair for many years. His term as chair completes in January 2021. Please contact Dave if you have any questions.

OTHER IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS

The Trinity: The God We Don’t Know Bible study is wrapping up. Our last sessions will take place Oct. 21st at 2pm (in-person) and Oct. 22 at 7pm (over zoom). We will also have the privilege of a Q&A session over zoom on Wednesday Oct. 21st at 7PM with the author, Jason Byassee.

You can join using the link below (N.B. THIS IS DIFFERENT FROM THE THURS. LINK)

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88234767912?pwd=U1BvYTVxOEMyY2tjVHdDVzhkYjJFUT09

OR by phoning 1-778-907-2071 (BC) and following the prompts

Meeting ID: 882 3476 7912

Passcode: 764463

 I will be away on holidays Nov. 2-9. There will be a pre-taped service for Nov. 8th available mid-week on our YouTube channel. For any pastoral emergencies please contact Angela Hope, 250-650-8830.

GUIDELINES FOR RE-OPENING In-Person Worship

With God’s help we continue to navigate unknown waters both as a society and as a congregation.  As a Session we feel that the time is right to begin a trial of in person attendance at services.  Our priority is to maintain safety for everyone involved by following the provincial guidelines.

Our first in person service of worship will be at 10:30 on Sunday, Nov. 1.  We will then take a break for a week to evaluate how things went and if all goes well we will resume in person services on Sunday, Nov. 15.

Of course these services can’t look or feel like they did before COVID-19!  So here are some changes to our usual procedures we’ll need to follow.

  1. We will need to maintain 2 metre distances at all times so our seating will be very limited. That means that you will need to pre-register in order to attend.  You can pre-register by phoning the office by NOON on the Friday before or registering online at https://reopen.church/r/G7rtRqfx .  We will be giving priority to those who wish to attend who do not have access to the internet to watch the service on-line.
  2. When you arrive you come in through the front doors only. The doors will open about 15 minutes prior to the service.  An usher will greet you with hand sanitizer and politely remind you to wear a mask.  They will also ask you the usual COVID-19 questions that you get everywhere you go these days.  Please maintain physical distance as you are entering and any time you are in the building.  Another usher will check off your name on the pre-registration list.  This will also help the Health Authority with contact tracing should that ever become necessary.  If your name is not on the list we will ask you to enjoy the service from your car through the FM broadcast or to return home and watch it on-line.
  3. As you enter the hall through the front doors, you can place your offering envelope in the plates on the table, there will be no collection during the service, and place any prayer requests in the bowl. You must write out your prayer requests at home so that we don’t create a traffic jam or handle too many items.
  4. The chairs will be arranged with appropriate spacing and you can sit together with one other from your family bubble. The service will remain about a half hour long.  The music may be pre-recorded. There won’t be any group singing, and may not include responsive readings or unison prayers.  You could hum softly with the music under your mask.  Once everyone is seated an usher will take photograph of the hall so we have a record of where everyone was seated, again an aid to contact tracing.
  5. At the end of the service you will be asked to remain seated until an usher indicates its your turn to leave so that we maintain physical distance. Everyone will leave by the back doors.  We would ask that you continue to maintain physical distancing outdoors as well and not congregate in groups.  We’ll have to wave our greetings to each other!
  6. The washrooms and kitchen remain closed as we do not have adequate cleaning abilities to open these up. Please keep all your personal belongings with you, including your coat.

We are not yet ready to begin offering Children in Worship, one step at a time!

You can of course continue to worship from home, watching the live stream of the worship service.  You can also listen to the service from the parking lot on FM at 88.1.

We are one as God’s family and we care for each other, holding each other’s safety in our hands. As a Session we hope that this small step towards re-opening worship is an uplifting experience for you, but only participate if you feel safe and comfortable doing so.

Corinne Wester

Clerk of Session

October 11, 2020 Newsletter

 

A Message from the Minister’s Messy Desk

            Today the weather is changing. The wind is rustling and the sky is grey. I heard this morning that there were rain warnings for parts of the island with nearly 100mm of rain! But even on a day like today October is my favourite month. In the iconic book Anne of Green Gables she exclaims, “I am so glad to live in a world where there are Octobers.” I couldn’t agree more. I pray that as the season transitions we are reminded that God is with us throughout the transitions of our lives. Sometimes our days are filled with bright colours, like those on the maple and oak trees in the church parking lot, and sometimes our days are filled with dark clouds and blowing wind, like this morning. Yet, God is in and with it all. At this week’s Bible study we read a portion of the Living Faith (one of the PCC’s statements of faith) where it says, “Jesus understands us. He felt the joy of friendship, the pain of rejection, and died a human death.” This helps me to know that no matter the kind of day I am having that Jesus knows what it’s like. As thanksgiving approaches and we are all aware that it will feel different this year I encourage you to give thanks for all that brings you comfort and joy.

Angela Hope, our Pastoral Care Assistant, sent me this wonderful statement about gratitude. Gratitude is known to reduce pain, improve sleep quality, aid in stress regulation, reduce anxiety and depression, reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness and strengthens the immune system

May it remind us all to give thanks!
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life
It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a
friend.
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today
and creates a vision for tomorrow.
  • Melody Beattie

Thank you to Maryka and Corinne for this beautiful thanksgiving display!

ANNOUNCEMENTS FOR Oct 11th

A reminder to elders that we have a Session meeting via zoom this tuesday, Oct 13th at 7pm

The annual Child Haven Dinner will look different this year. Child Haven International is a registered Canadian charity that assists children and women in developing countries who are in need of food, education, health care, shelter and other supports.

Instead of the usual sit down meal this year the Datt family are offering take away meals by e-transfer.

 

Child Haven International 2020 Fundraising Event

Friday, October 16, 5 PM

DUE TO COVID: in lieu of the

17th ANNUAL CHILD HAVEN DINNER We will be selling a

FULL VEGETARIAN INDIAN DINNER FOR TAKE AWAY

 from the 3rd street side of the 

COURTENAY LEGION 367 CLIFFE AVENUE

Up the covered ramp: physical distancing will be practiced

DINNER FOR 4 $50

PAYMENT BY E-TRANSFER

For more information, contact Heather at 250.338.2181

 

Responding in Faith

There are approximately 40 hymns or carols in our current Book of Praise in the
section called, “Christmas”, of that 40 about 25 are fairly well known and we sing them nearly
every year. Eighteen of those carols reference Mary, seventeen reference the angels, fifteen
reference the Shepherds, ten reference the animals in the stable, nine reference Bethlehem,
seven reference the manger and five reference the star. Do you know how many of the carols in
our hymn book reference Joseph? Two. One is an obscure hymn that I have never sung called,
“The Snow Lay On the Ground” and the other is “Angels we have heard on high.” Now, I like to
think of myself as a bit of a feminist, and therefore I am aware that most of the other stories in
Scripture are male dominated, so it is time that a woman is the centre of a story. However, I am
also a bit of an equal opportunist and I have started to feel a bit sorry for Joseph, sure Mary
does most of the work and faces incredible challenges head on, sure the Angels are the ones
who announce the birth to the Shepherds, sure the animals and manger are fun to sing about
because it makes it such an extraordinary story but Joseph may just be the most relate-able
character in this story. Matthew is the only Gospel writer who really gives Joseph any depth but
Joseph’s behaviour and example gives us some clarity on how incredible this whole narrative is
and how it relates to our own lives.

First a word about his name, because throughout the stories of the people of God,
names are important. The name Joseph comes from the Hebrew name Yosef which finds its
root from the Hebrew verb “yasaf” which means “to add” or “to increase”. This makes sense as
we think of the other Josephs who find themselves within Scripture. The first time we hear the
name Joseph is within the story of Jacob, Joseph is the 11th

son and but first son with Jacob’s fourth and favourite wife Rachel. This Joseph increased not only the family of Jacob but adds to the story of the Israelites in general as it is through him that they eventually find themselves in Egypt. The Joseph from this morning, Joseph, the husband of Mary also adds to story of God’s people. Matthew’s version of Joseph is unique to not only all the Gospels but unique to the rest of Matthew. Nowhere else are Joseph’s traits described or does he take such an active role in the birth of Jesus. Matthew says that Joseph was a righteous man, the only descriptor in all the gospels about Joseph’s personality and given Joseph’s behaviour it is almost redundant to say he is righteous because we find out how righteous within the same sentence. If an unwed young woman, who was betrothed or promised in marriage, was found pregnant it was not only grounds for a dismissal or divorce but according to Deuteronomy 22, could lead to her being put to death. Joseph plans to dismiss her quietly, saving the family from shame and saving Mary’s and the unborn child’s life. The very fact that he does not want to expose her publicly to save her from disgrace demonstrates his righteousness. Its important that we don’t romanticize this story too much. Joseph wasn’t doing this because he was heartbroken, he decided to dismiss her quietly because it was the right thing to do. However, Joseph’s plans are abruptly changed following a message in a dream. So
often our plans can change in an instant.

The Angel’s first words to Joseph can help us too when change seizes us. This angel of the Lord gives the command, “do not be afraid,” we too should not fear change. The angel continues with some very interesting and counter-cultural instructions. Joseph is not only to take Mary as his wife, something that would have been unheard of at the time, but he is also the one who is to name the child. Culturally the naming was usually a prerogative of the mother. As mentioned in the introduction, this naming is vital to the relationship between Joseph and Jesus. By naming Jesus, Joseph performs the official act of adoption and as a result, due to Joseph’s obedience and naming, Jesus is linked to the historic royal genealogy of Israel. Think about this for a moment, according to Matthew, because of Joseph’s obedience, Jesus becomes the Son of David- and therefore the Messiah. Without Joseph’s role Jesus would not have been able to claim his royal lineage. And the symbolism of Joseph’s adoption of Jesus should not be lost on us. Just as Joseph names and therefore claims Jesus as his own, Jesus adopts and claims us as his own.

It is Joseph’s obedience that can make him relate-able. Joseph was going to quietly
dismiss Mary- one could say he had given up on her as his wife. But God tells Joseph not only
to not give up but to demonstrate love by faithfully supporting her. Both Mary and Joseph take
all of this in stride but Joseph’s role in this nativity narrative opens up the possibilities for us to
explore the faith filled contributions we make when we do not give up on others but rather
demonstrate love, particularly within those situations that are not necessarily of our making or
even those in which we do not play a central role. The Rev. Dr. Grant Barclay frames it this way,
“If faith is understood as the choices we make and things we are determine to do, this passage
suggests faith may also be about the responses we make to the situations in which we find
ourselves. We are faithful not only in those ways we take the initiative, but also in how we
respond.” Joseph responds with faith and love to a very challenging situation.
In fairness, I think most of us would find it easier to respond to unpredictable situations
if we too had dreams in which angels gave us instruction and made the outcomes very clear.
However, at this time of year I also think about how our best laid plans can be derailed. Instead
of responding with anger or even dismissal perhaps we need to respond in faith and love.
Joseph has doubts and concerns but they are answered by divine confirmation. We don’t
always have that luxury however, this story declares that God reaches into the context of human existence in an unprecedented way- Jesus does what we cannot do for ourselves. Through this extraordinary story we discover that we do have the ability to respond to extraordinary situations as Joseph does- with faith and love, and we can always turn to Scripture for reassurance. The angel in Joseph’s dream not only tells Joseph to name the child Jesus but then quotes directly from the passage we heard in Isaiah. This might seem a bit confusing because the angel also tells Joseph that the child’s name will be Emmanuel. So, what happened to the name Jesus? Well, in short, Matthew is saying that Jesus saves his people by being God with us- something that will become vital in understanding the person and work of Jesus. When Isaiah wrote his prophecy the Southern Kingdom had just been attacked and therefore his words are about divine signs of salvation during a siege. The countdown to Christmas can sometimes feel like a siege- but the power of the name Emmanuel for us at Advent is that it calls us to live faithfully in God’s promise to be with us and indeed even to have the courage of faith to test that promise when we feel under siege. And I’m not talking about some false war on Christmas- I’m talking about all of those situations in which we, loose faith, in which we no longer believe that God is able to reverse threatening situations that confront us or the world.

We don’t know how Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant but it certainly was a
threatening situation for her and for their betrothal but God intervened and reversed the
situation, transformed it in such a way that this child became the Messiah. It may appear that
Joseph just went along for the ride but in truth his willingness to follow in faith, and not give up
on Mary or the relationship, is what changes the situation. Think of all the opportunities you
have in the coming week to be like Joseph. Do not give up, respond in faith, act in love. Amen